Monthly Archives: January 2015

NEW BOOK REVEALS FASCINATING LINK WITH BROMLEY HOUSE LIBRARY

One of the Library’s acquisitions in 2014, Alison Light’s “Common People: the History of an English Family” (Ca 13767), makes an interesting, if unconscious, connection with a distinguished former member of the Library.
In exploring her family background, Alison Light illuminates many aspects of our social history along the way. She discovered that her grandfather’s mother, Sarah Hill, entered the recently-completed Netherne Asylum, in Surrey, in 1911. This prompted her to look at the role of asylums and workhouses in the lives of working people over the last two centuries.
She found a picture of Netherne Asylum, below, and notes (on page 283) that it was designed in a “simplified Queen Anne style” by G T Hine, consulting architect to His Majesty’s Commissioners in Lunacy.

Hine

George Thomas Hine (1841-1916) was the son of Nottingham’s most famous architect, Thomas Chambers Hine, who was a member of Bromley House Library for 55 years. George himself was a subscriber between 1884 and 1890. He was a partner in T C Hine’s practice until he started his own, in London, after his father’s retirement in 1890.
One of his specialisms was the design of hospitals and asylums, begun by his winning first prize for the design of Mapperley asylum in 1875. Ken Brand’s Nottingham Civic Society pamphlet on T C Hine (Cc 02643) notes that he went on to win other open competitions to design asylums at Woodford, Essex in 1887, Charminster, Dorset in 1890 and Ryhope, Sunderland in 1891. After winning 5 competitions he was appointed consulting architect to the Commissioners in 1897. He designed or extended 20 asylums in all and lived in Mayfair, London.
The Commissioners in Lunacy were created in 1845. Known as “Masters in Lunacy” and appointed by the Lord Chancellor, their first Chairman was the distinguished reformer Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury. They became the Board of Control for Lunacy and Mental Deficiency in 1913 and were absorbed by the Ministry of Health in 1919, continuing as inspectors of asylums until 1939.

A short biography of G T Hine can be found in Jennifer S. Alexander’s article about Mapperley Hospital in the Transactions of the Thoroton Society for 2008, Vol. 112 (Cc 02078). It can be read online at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/arthistory/staff/ja/alexander-copy.pdf .

Martin Gorman

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Painted to fit?

The painting in 1916

The painting in 1916

In 1822 when Nottingham Subscription Library was moving into Bromley House, John Rawson Walker offered to paint a picture for the Library instead of paying the share price of 10 Guineas. At this point if you wished to join the Library then you purchased a share, and paid an annual subscription. A Guinea, for those who are unfamiliar with earlier coinage, was settled in 1816 as 21 shillings.  Two other artists, Clifton Tomson and Thomas Barber junior, made similar arrangements.  The small seated figure in the painting by John Rawson Walker is of Henry Kirk-White, the poet and hymn writer of Nottingham, who wrote a poem called Clifton Grove. He is also remembered as the writer of ‘Oft in Danger, Oft in Woe’. Clifton Grove was a famous beauty spot during the 19th century, and no visit to Nottingham was complete without visiting there. The legend of Clifton Grove refers to an unhappy love story featuring an unfaithful maiden and a heart broken squire, who threw himself into the Trent there. This is referred to in Henry Kirk White’s poem.

John Rawson Walker, and the other two painters, discovered that they had misunderstood the terms of the agreement with the Library, and were informed that although they would be let off the arrears, they had to pay the annual subscription for library membership. It seems likely that Clifton Tomson was sufficiently upset by this to immediately resign his membership, and remove his painting from the Library.

The painting has been taken down whilst the room is cleaned, showing  bare bricks behind it. It was presumably painted exactly to fit the space, suggesting that the Smith family had earlier had a painting of that exact same size. But was their’s painted to fit, or the fireplace designed to showcase a favourite painting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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